Gonzalez gave up four hits, a walk and three earned runs in what ended up an 8-3 win for the Nationals in which he received no decision.
Gonzalez, 31, finished the regular season, his fourth in the nation’s capital, (11-11) with a 4.57 ERA, 3.76 FIP, 59 walks (2.99 BB/9) and 171 Ks (8.68 K/9) in 177 1⁄3 IP.
The Nationals picked up Gonzalez’s $12M option for 2017 in November.
His contract includes a guaranteed option (at another $12M) if he reaches 180 innings this season, which he hasn’t managed in the last three years after completing 195+ in each of the previous four campaigns (2010-2013).
Gonzalez told reporters, including MASN’s Mark Zuckerman, that his goal this season is to earn an All-Star nod so he can pitch near his hometown of Hialeah, Florida when the Midsummer Classic is held in Miami in July.
Nats’ skipper Dusty Baker said he would be happy if Gonzalez just finishes above .500.:
“I just told Gio he’s better than a .500 pitcher with the stuff he has. Just go out and win one at a time. But I like goal-setting people. It’s better than not having a goal. He’s a big piece of this puzzle for us. So I’m hoping that Gio has the best year of his life. And if he comes close to the All-Star that he once was, we’ll all be happy.”
This afternoon, the Nationals’ left-hander takes the mound on the road in First Data Field for the Grapefruit League opener against the New York Mets at 1:05 PM.
Here’s the lineup that will take the field behind Gonzalez today in Port St. Lucie:
Here’s the Mets’ lineup for today’s game, via New York Times’ writer James Wagner:
Mets lineup vs. Nats: Reyes 3B, Granderson 8, Cespedes 7, Wright DH, Cabrera SS, Flores 1B, Bruce RF, Kelly 2B, Rivera C. Gilmartin SP.— James Wagner (@ByJamesWagner) February 25, 2017
Are you ready for the official start of Grapefruit League action? 1:05 PM EST on MLB.tv or SNY if you’re in the NY/NJ area.